Un poquito de fe

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Tumi Music
PERFORMER: Felix Baloy’s Cuban Son All Stars
CATALOGUE NO: TUMI 127

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The number of Cuban recording groups with similar names and overlapping personnel is enough to confuse most people. Felix Baloy’s Cuban Son All Stars are different from the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Then again Baloy was a vocal mainstay of the Afro-Cubans, and with his own band he’s also making down-the-line mainstream music.

It’s powerful and persuasive, with a throaty, agile voice and rich brass scoring under the usual piano, tres guitar, and layers of percussion. Apart from a couple of slower boleros, Un poquito de fe is all in the son style, and most numbers seem to have more trumpets than violins in the orchestra.

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The musicians play brilliantly, but they are at it all the time: they’d get thirsty if they tried to perform these arrangements live without a break or three. Half the point of a big band is to give an endless variety of lighter scoring, and that rather goes missing here.